Sunday, July 15, 2012

TPP plus NAFTA plus SOPA=Big Trouble

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an alliance of eleven countries, America, Australia, Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, Canada and Mexico. What do they have in common? Trouble, as they secretly write a trade agreement behind closed doors. Critics believe the group is allowing corporations a venue to override American laws. It’s worse than NAFTA.
Also, some of the organization’s documents have leaked and reveal that Internet freedom is on TPP’s agenda as well, à la SOPA. Put those elements together and you have trouble. Big Trouble!
First, it turns out Obama officials secretly negotiated and adopted ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), which establishes no-restriction, supranational global trade rules, i.e., an American trade law with any of the nations above can be superseded by one of theirs. In short, it walks all over our national sovereignty, our privacy and personal freedoms.
Stephen Lendman points out in TPP: A Trade deal from Hell, “In October 2011, Obama lawlessly circumvented Congress. He signed ACTA. He falsely claimed it’s not a treaty. He usurped diktat authority. He claimed he acted by “executive agreement.” He strong-armed other nations to go along.
“TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership) is ACTA 2.0. The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) calls it ‘a secretive, multi-nation agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property laws across the globe.’”
The nations participating made sure to do their business behind closed doors. For more than two years, many rounds of negotiation have been held and are still being continued, out of view.
As Lendman points out, “At issue is agreeing on unrestricted trade in goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers, government procurement and competition policies, and intellectual property (IP).
“IP includes copyrights, trademarks, patents, and related considerations. One-sided pro-business structuring harms ordinary popular rights. At stake is a free and open Internet, its global infrastructure, and worldwide innovation under level playing field rules.” That doesn’t leave much for a sovereign US to protect as its own assets and for providing US jobs.
Take a look at this piece from Dandelion Salad, Why The Yes Men Crashed the TPP Negotiations +TPP opening the back door for SOPA? + TPP: NAFTA on steroids. Of particular interest are Sam Seder’s and Liz Wahl’s interviews with Lori Wallach, who funded Global Trade Watch in 1995, a Public Citizen division that monitors destructive trade deals.
She states, Its “mission is to ensure that in this era of globalization, majority have the opportunity to enjoy economic security, a clean environment, safe food, medicines and products, access to quality affordable services such as health care and the exercise of democratic decision-making about the matters that affect their lives.”
According to Wallach, “Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade and in a move that will infuriate left and right alike have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don’t want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do.”
Their TPP Investment Chapter provisions are as follows . . .
“(1) prohibit federal, state, and local governments from regulating foreign companies operating in America. They’ll have greater rights than US firms.
“(2) Incentivize corporate America to invest abroad and offshore more jobs to low wage countries.
“(3) Establish a two-track legal system. Foreign firms will be exempt from US laws. They’ll be able to sue federal, state and local governments in foreign courts. At issue is demanding compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use, and other laws they claim undermine their rights.
“(4) Let foreign corporations demand and receive compensation for costs incurred in complying with US financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to all companies globally.
“Hundreds of US corporate officials have access to TPP provisions. They’re advising US negotiators on what they want. Except for leaks, the public is entirely shut out.
“US Trade Representative Ron Kirk defended TPP secrecy despite having no leg to stand on. According to Wallach: “He effectively has said that the administration must keep TPP secret because otherwise it won’t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress.”
“The airing of this one TPP chapter, which greatly favors foreign corporations over domestic businesses and the public interest and exposes us to significant financial liabilities, shows that the whole draft text must be released immediately so it can be reviewed and debated.”
“Absent that, these negotiations must be ended now.”
Obama wants negotiations completed by fall. Other countries are free to join in later. Information Public Citizen obtained shows how TPP tramples on individual freedom and national sovereignty.
US negotiators want extrajudicial enforcement rights. They want corporate investors freed to do what they please without regulatory oversight.
On June 14, Public Citizen said TPP “could undermine Medicare, Medicaid,” and veterans’ health benefits. Seniors, military families, and America’s least advantaged will be harmed most.
That’s the whole idea. TPP prioritizes corporate interests at the expense of public ones. For example, affordable medicines will be lost. Price containment will be subverted. Leaked texts reveal it.
On June 18, Public Citizen said Mexico became the tenth negotiating country. China reportedly is seeking entry. Expect others to follow.
Wallach again stressed that TPP’s “model is fundamentally flawed: It’s hard to imagine who in this country would support it if they knew that it banned ‘Buy American’ procurements, limited Internet freedom a la SOPA (the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act) or created a two-track judicial system privileging corporations with a new ticket to raid our tax dollars.”
“Adding more countries just expands the potential threats of corporate attacks that the TPP poses to people here and now also poses to Mexicans.”
Congressional opposition exists. Sixty-nine members wrote Obama after learning that TPP bans “Buy American” procurement rules.
The entire Congress can hang its hat on that issue. Whether it will is another matter entirely.
US politics are too corrupt to fix. Big money controls it. What corporate funders want, they get.
Public rage alone can change things. Expect nothing else to work. It is high time people understood the buck stops with them. There is no alternative.
It’s their choice and burden to bear otherwise. Hopefully they’ll stand up for what they should have demanded long ago.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer, life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at and He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at

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